The 1994 blockbuster film Speed features an LAPD Detective played by Keanu Reeves working with over-it transit commuter Sandra Bullock to keep a busload of people safe after it’s become the target of a terrorist threat. In between the explosions, high-octane action, and nail-biting action sequences, viewers learn the terrorist’s intentions: He was an ex-police officer jaded by the treatment he received from the department.
It’s referenced a couple of times in the film, both by Reeves’ partner and the terrorist himself (played by Dennis Hopper) that all they get for their efforts upon retirement is a “cheap watch,” as a parting gift. And there are several films that have used this narrative for the motives behind individuals’ acts of violence against systems they believe did them wrong: White House Down featured a similar revenge plot where soldiers who were exploited for political gain try to make bank as recompense. The Rock follows more or less the same premise, just with Nic Cage and Sean Connery.
And while disgruntled employees on social media aren’t waging large-scale heists and rigging bombs with explosives in protest of the way their employers demonstrate how little they value them, a number of folks have taken to the internet to lampoon corporate culture’s caricature of human consideration.
Which is the subject of a viral Reddit post user @waiting4donut uploaded to the site’s r/antiwork sub, where they asked other users on the site what they received at their respective jobs after 10 years of dutiful service.
They kicked off the discussion by sharing what they were gifted at their job: “I was one of the OGs and joined 2 years after the company was established. Only 3 people made it to 10 years in a company of 70+ (average tenure at this place is 1-2 years now). All I got for my years of loyalty was a pen, below market salary and a simple thanks. Safe to say I won’t be staying much longer…”
One of the top-voted comments in response to the post was from a person who shared their 5-year milestone gifts. For 5 years, they said that they received “a little desk clock.” At 10 years, they were gifted a “$500 AMEX gift card” along with “a little glass award.” For year 15, they said that they were laid off in the middle of a pandemic and that their entire department’s functions were outsourced to India.
Someone else said that after working 10 years at their respective job they didn’t receive anything, but enjoy the “fringe perks” of the gig nonetheless allows her a certain amount of flexibility which she appreciates as a single mom, despite getting “paid sh*t.”
Another redditor replied to her that their gift was so bad they would’ve much rather been given nothing at all: “I got a certificate that certifies I have been at my job for 10 years and a f*cking pin. Same thing I got when I reached 5 years. I would’ve been happier with nothing.”
Judging from other folks’ comments, it would seem that pieces of paper thanking them for staying with the company for so long is the trademark of many business’ employee appreciation models, as another Reddit user penned: “Nothing. For 30 years I received a congratulations certificate.”
One person said that all they received was more on-the-job responsibilities while taking away the necessary “resources” to fulfill said responsibilities.
Another example of alleged corporate pettiness was highlighted by another individual who relayed how taxes for gifts he received from their company were deducted from his next pay period’s wages: “An acrylic plaque and a Bose Soundwave mini I picked out from the gratuity store at 10 years. For 15 years, they’d quit giving out the acrylic plaque and when I cashed in my points at the gratuity store for a Ring doorbell and a pair of cameras they took the state tax for them out of my next check. Never be loyal to a corporation. The only reason I’m still here is I leveraged some unique skills into a pretty good independent contributor position and got paid. But I don’t love them and they don’t love me.”
Tone-deaf employee appreciation gifts have been the subject of many online discussions and critical pieces highlighting how businesses shouldn’t treat their employees. PayScale compiled a list of some awful appreciation gifts, which was a lunch that someone’s boss made them pay for at a spot their boss picked out, along with “generic swag” bags featuring a bunch of cheap, miscellaneous trinkets. In another piece from the outlet, one individual talked about receiving a watch with another employee’s name on the back, along with “unusable gift card[s]” and “leftover cupcakes.”
The Society for Human Resource Management also highlighted a quote from Psychologist Paul White, who discussed corporate culture’s problematic inability to connect with workers on a meaningful, human level: “In work relationships, it is the thought that counts. For employees who value gifts, either giving everyone the same item or giving them a generic gift with no thought or personal meaning is actually offensive.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to @waiting4donut via Reddit DM for further comment.